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‘Battle Hymn of the Digital Publisher’: a media epic in verse

This is what they must have meant / When they spoke of 'shareable content.'


Dave Infante

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 11, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 12:10 am CDT

Editor’s note: We have a Gmail filter that sends all poetry submissions to our spam folder, because poetry is stupid. Once we established that “Dave Infante” was not an exotic nom de plume designed to game the system, however, we read the thing, and laughed a little. Now, we encourage you to do the same. 

Does the fruit hang low?

How’s it look re: SEO?

Can you roll it up into a list,

So harried readers get the gist?

Will the juice be worth the squeeze?

Can we templatize with ease?

If the partners want a taste,

Can we syndicate with haste?

Is it fish? Is it fowl?

Reddit is the place to prowl.

Serve it up in cool new ways,

And we’ll have traffic spikes for days!

We’re looking for the lowest lift, see?

What can we turn around today?

Embed a ‘Gram and do it swiftly.

Boom! A slick quick traffic play.

Should we tweet it? Should we pin it?

The war is Content, and we are in it.

Mount feigning heds, not one too untoward.

We ride for shareability. Forward! Forward!

Chartbeat needles! Google Analytics!

Words are useless without good pics.

Concurrents! Uniques! Time on site:

Those holy numbers, for which we fight.

Facebook is a firehose.

They want video? So it goes.

Vines combine for fine aggregation!

(Just credit the edit to avoid litigation!)

Our operating budget is near zero.

A freelancer?! No, we need a hero.

Recent grads with dreams of blogging,

Who ask no pay for hours they’re logging.

Find us swell J-school idealists,

Assign them lofty traffic goals.

Watch them turn to jaded realists,

Bottomed out on media’s shoals.

Can’t call ‘em interns—let’s say “fellows”!

Have they seen our office bar?

There’s a celeb – let ‘em say “hellos,”

As long as they don’t offend the star.

Tell them they have “hashtag influence,”

“This website, ripe farmland for your personal brands!”

Hold close the truth, should they turn truants:

They are sharecroppers, mercenaries, hired hands.

Weep for them, for they’ve seen Content,

Scraped, stretched, shaped, and brutally flayed.

They scroll their feeds with bitter resent,

Mouths agape at stories aped and remade.

When the fight grows hard, and the millstones, legion,

Get thee to a literary mag!

Like healing salve to a wounded region,

This is really more your bag.

There you can be a music critic,

Or a thoughtful author of short stories.

Can prestige cure that which made you sick,

Chasing uncatchable traffic glories?

Far from the front, Content seems less a battle;

A slaughter—that’s how it looks from here.

Are there even lines that publishers straddle?

Have we become the hell that we fear?

Unspoken in Slack rooms but widely known,

The secret of our world is thus.

I should say: these opinions are my own,

Not those of my employer, trust.

Deep breath:

Clickbait is the thing to hate,

But it’s great, when the date

Is late and uniques you must inflate

Lest the investors debate your fate.

Jest it’s not; test it not; “20 best…” it,

That’s your best shot at

Breaking e-ven,

Raking them in,

Making a win

Out of a sin.

Did they click in?



Gauge intent!

Reader exploitation!

Learnings! Earnings! 

Expand the demand!

Flood the zone!

Build the brand!

Ours, not your own!

Is anyone still reading this? Pardon,

I got a little wound up there,

But if you enjoyed the verse herein,

Won’t you please, to Facebook, share?

Dave Infante is a writer living and working in New York City. Follow him on Twitter: @dinfontay.

Photos via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)Wikipedia (PD) | Remix by Dave Infante

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*First Published: Sep 11, 2015, 12:00 pm CDT